The scholarship launched by Stormzy to help black British students at Cambridge was originally proposed for Oxford University – only for the University to reject it, according to the award-winning grime artist.
The musician – who was declared Person of the Year by the Oxford African and Caribbean society in 2017 – was speaking at the launch of his new publishing imprint, Merky Books, alongside fellow rapper Akala, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, and writer Malorie Blackman.
However, Oxford University denied that they had received any “offer or proposal” and noted that they had today contacted Stormzy’s representatives to “welcome the opportunity to work together” on a possible scheme.
Music journalist Dan Hancox attended last night’s event and tweeted: “Tonight at the Barbican Stormzy revealed that the much-discussed scholarship he’s funding at Cambridge Uni was first proposed to Oxford University, and they told him to get lost?! Incredible.”
Tonight at the Barbican Stormzy revealed that the much-discussed scholarship he's funding at Cambridge Uni was first proposed to Oxford University, and they told him to get lost?! Incredible.
— dan hancox (@danhancox) November 7, 2018
This appears to contradict a report from the Oxford Mail from August, where the University said it had not been approached about a scheme similar to that at Cambridge.
The Stormzy Scholarship will completely fund two students’ tuition fees and maintenance grants for up to four years of an undergraduate course. It will run this year and in 2019, funding four students overall.
Stormzy himself will fund one scholarship, with the second being funded by Youtube Music.
Stormzy announced the launch of the scholarship on A-Levels results today at his old school, where he said: “We’re a minority, the playing ground isn’t level for us, and it’s vital that all potential students are given the same opportunity.”
Earlier this year, Cherwell revealed that Oxford admitted more pupils from the private Westminster School than black, British students in the space of a single year.
A spokesperson for the University of Oxford told Cherwell: “Oxford University is committed to widening access and participation for all students from under-represented backgrounds. We admire Stormzy’s commitment to inspire and support black students to succeed in higher education. We have not received or turned down any offer or proposal to fund undergraduate scholarships at Oxford.
“We have contacted to Stormzy’s representatives today to clarify we would welcome the opportunity to work together on inspiring students from African-Caribbean heritage to study at Oxford.”
In an earlier statement, the Oxford SU Sabbatical Team said: “It comes as no surprise to us to hear the University turned this offer down (sic). It shows their complacency and how out of touch it has become on this issue. For too long we have seen a lack of action on improving access to Oxford. This was a clear way to change that, and it seems the University is happy with its position at the bottom of the class when it comes to breaking down barriers for black students and students of colour.
“As an SU we firmly believe in education for all. One scholarship would not solve deep-rooted problems of racism and inequality in this University or our education system but it’s a step in the right direction.
“It seems that it’s too late for this opportunity, but we implore the University of Oxford to ensure this does not happen again (sic). We will be continuing to the push the University for an explanation for this error.”
This article was amended at 14:00 GMT 08/11/2018 with the addition of the University of Oxford’s statement, which denied they had received a proposal from Stormzy; and again at 14:45 with a statement from Oxford SU’s Sabbatical Team.